Maputo Council demolishes informal stalls

Maputo Municipal Council on 26 January began to demolish informal stalls in the urban district of Katembe, located near the jetty used by the Maputo-Katembe ferry service.

The stall owners reacted with outrage, although they had been warned three times to move because they were occupying space on which the Council intends to build a road.

The first warning came in May 2017, when the Council told the stallholders they would have to move. The Council offered them land elsewhere, but they refused to move, saying the new site was "too far away". The stallholders demanded compensation, but the Council said they had no right to any compensation.

Two further warnings came, the latest on 5 January, and still the stallholders refused to go. Now the Council has shown that its threat to remove the stalls by force was serious. According to a report on the independent television station STV, on one plot of land the bulldozers destroyed 14 stalls.

There has been a trend for informal markets to spring up on unused land, and although they have no legal right to the land, the stallholders have often been tolerated and have become part of the urban landscape. The tolerance then backfires when the municipal authorities want to use the land for something else, and the stallholders refuse to move.

The stalls sell to people using the ferry. But in a few months time when the Maputo-Katembe bridge opens, there will be no more requirement for a ferry service and the main clientele for the stalls will disappear.